Reporting Bud Gillett
WEST (CBSDFW.COM) - State investigators moved the outer perimeter about four blocks Saturday after determining there aren’t any chemical leaks or airborne hazards in areas less damaged by Wednesday’s deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant in West. Weary residents who were evacuated from their neighborhoods were finally allowed back home. A long line of people snaked their way through the first loosening of check points in days. Police marked all of their cars to keep records of who was coming and going. Volunteers offered food to waiting motorists and The Texas Baptist Men handed out cardboard boxes so people could pack up items that may have survived the blast.
Displaced West resident Shane Rodriguez queued up for hours in order to join caravans of select homeowners allowed back into the lesser-damaged neighborhoods. His home didn’t sustain serious exterior damage but it doesn’t have running water and his dogs are missing. “I’m glad the house wasn’t destroyed. I feel sorry for people who lost everything. My heart goes out to those people.”
Only homeowners who lived further away from the deadly blast site were allowed back. It’s “Stage-1″ in the return home for them. A small return to normalcy for what was a long week of loss, transition and ultimately hope in the small town.
“We are going through a tough time here and we are working diligently to get everybody back into their homes,” said West Mayor Pro Tem Steve Vanek.
Word of the loosened restrictions spread rapidly after it was announced at town hall earlier in the day. But there are still some restrictions in play. “There is limited access to water, electricity and natural gas at this time. A curfew is in effect immediately.”
The curfew requires residents to stay home all night or exit the area by 7 p.m. They can go back into their neighborhoods by 7 a.m. Sunday. Some residents said they are fearful and don’t know what to expect when they do return home.
“We don’t know what we’re going to look at,” said Elizabeth Marquez Perea, who hasn’t gone home since she helped evacuate injured people during those first frantic hours Wednesday night. She lives too close to the blast zone to be let back in yet. She will have to wait for Stage-2 or later.
“It’s really hectic but we’re patient because we know the extend of damage on the other side and we’ve got friends and family we don’t know about over there.”
Complete Coverage Of West Fertilizer Explosion
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